Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pictures of a very happy Llyr!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures of Llyr at Physical Therapy.

Llyr getting a hug from Michelle. He sure looks like a teddy bear!

Llyr swimming with Michelle.

Llyr taking a break between laps with Dr. Stephanie Finley.

Llyr with Cheryl getting ready to swim laps.

And last, but not least because I will post more in the future. Llyr after swimming...a very wet Corgi!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

For those who may be hesitant to get a cart

There are some people who may be hesitant to get a cart because for some reason they may feel a stigma is attached to dogs in carts. To be blunt to me that is a crazy notion, but I have heard of people that feel that way.

I have never really come across this when Llyr is out in his cart.  Some people may first say "poor dog", but when I tell them how well he does in his cart and how it has made such a big difference in his quality of life their eyes usually start to open.  Then they see him walking in his cart and how happy he is and we continue talking about carts and Degenerative Myelopathy.

I may be a bit biased, but I think Llyr is a very special Corgi. So many people come up to meet him when we are out and about.  Children are attracted to him especially disabled ones. Lately, complete strangers have recognized him from Facebook, The Daily Corgi, You Tube and his blog. In our little part of the world I think Llyr has helped some people that feel there is a stigma to cart usage.

Here is a link to Llyr's You Tube channel. I have videos of Llyr in his cart and also doing Physical Therapy.

Llyr also made the CBS national news in a story with wonderful pictures on what dogs and other animals can do in wheel chairs.

Halloween costumes still look great when your Corgi is in a cart! Llyr was all smiles!

So please give a cart a try. It really will make a world of difference in your Corgis quality of life!

Llyr's first custom K9 Cart Company East Dog Wheelchair

After close to a year in his loaner cart Llyr was starting to have problems walking in his cart.  His loaner cart had been adjusted twice for a better fit but, it was long in length and a bit to wide. He was also having trouble staying stable in his cart. After Dr. Parkes looked at his cart to see if anything else could be done we decided that it was best to have a cart made custom for his measurements. I was so lucky that Dr. Parkes was able to build the cart while we were there. It was a very long, hot July day, but worth the wait. Llyr's custom cart fit him perfectly and it was much lighter than his loaner cart.

This video was taken before his cart was completely finished, but you will see he is walking much better.  

I can not thank Dr. Parkes enough for all his hard work and time spent getting Llyr's cart made this day. Llyr's custom cart made a world of difference.

Llyr's loaner cart is now being used by another Corgi with Degenerative Myelopathy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A day to be thankful

With DM there are some things to be thankful for.

First and foremost I am thankful for my boy Llyr. Despite the progressing of DM he still has  a good quality of life! I am thankful for his gusto for life and how he accepts and adapts to the challenges of DM.

I am thankful that there is a DNA test for DM and that there are some breeders that are testing their breeding stock and producing clear litters. Not enough though because some breeders have their heads in the sand, but that will be a topic for another post.
I am thankful that Llyr's original cart was able to be redesigned 2 times to be adapted to his needs and then his custom cart redesigned 2 times to his advancing DM. Thank you Dr. Parkes, Jamie and Rebecca at K9 Cart Company East.
I am thankful for the people on the Wheel Corgi Yahoo group that share their knowledge. I may not post  very often to the group, but I have learned a lot. A special thank you to Bobbie who started the group. She is quick to answer questions and has a lot of knowledge of DM. She also encouraged me to write this blog. She has written two wonderful blogs. Merlin's DM Blog where she chronicled Merlin's journey with DM. It is very informative and a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about DM. She also writes a bog called Merlin's friends which is a tribute to other Corgis who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge because of DM.
I am thankful for Dr. Stephanie Finley, Michelle and Cheryl at West Chester Veterinary Speciality Rehab Center for all they have done for Llyr and me too. They are like family now.
I am thankful for Dr. Cross who is now at VCA Veterinary Center in Indianapolis, IN. He is the first Veterinary Neurologist there. He was Llyr's first Neurologist at Penn Veterinary Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania. He showed so much compassion for Llyr and took wonderful care of him. I learned a lot from him. I am grateful to have know such a wonderful Vet. I miss him, but the people of Indianapolis are very lucky to have him!
I am thankful for Dr. Moeser.  Llyr's new Neurologist at Penn. We have only seen him once, but Llyr will be seeing him again in a couple weeks.
I am thankful for The Daily Corgi and Laurie Eno who has a never ending love and compassion for Corgis. She has featured Llyr many times on her blog and did a fundraiser for DM research. Her efforts raised a lot of money for DM and also awareness for this devastating disease. She has built a wonderful community with her blog for Corgi lovers worldwide.
I am thankful for Dr. Davis Diehl who saved Llyr's life by diagnosing his Thyroid Cancer and has been taking care of Llyr since then. She has advised me well and pointed me in the right direction in building a team of Vets for Llyr with his DM.
Lastly, I am thankful for my family and friends who understand and accept the love I have for Llyr and the time restraints that caring for him puts on the time I have to spend with them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Degenerative Myelopathy and cart usage

In the beginning when Llyr was still using his back legs some I used a Walk About Harness. It had holes for his back legs and wrapped around his hind end with velcro closures on top. It worked okay for a little while. He was not able to stand on his back legs or use them with out assistance of the Walk About Harness. I was advised that it was best to get him a cart while he was still able to use his back legs. I was very fortunate to get a loaner cart that originally came from the Corgi Aid Cart Loaner program.

It was a K9 Cart Company East Cart. They are located in Oxford, Md. Since i did not live to far from Oxford, Md. I gave them a call and asked if I could come down for a fitting. So off we went. Here is a video of Llyr after his fitting in his cart.

What a wonderful day this was. You will see in this video a very happy Corgi! It was all I could do not to cry when I saw Llyr being able to walk, run and do anything he wanted to. Llyr's quality of life vastly improved the moment he got into his cart.

 Dr. Parkes at K9 Cart Company East took Llyr's loaner cart and fitted it for him.  Down the road when his loaner cart did not fit him properly because of his advancing DM I went back to K9 Cart Company East and had a cart custom made for Llyr, but his first loaner cart worked well for quite some time.

I can not say how important it is to find a cart company that their carts can be adjusted as your dog progresses with DM. Not all carts on the market can be adjusted properly. The best choice is a custom made cart specifically for your Corgi if you can afford it. Think of it as an investment for your Corgis quality of life. If you break down the original cost of the cart with the amount of time that your Corgi will be in it it is really worth it. I personally like K9 Cart Company East because I think they make the best cart on the market and they have wonderful customer service. This is only my personal opinion.  There are many different cart manufactures. Do your research and find what is best for you and your Corgi. I highly recommend if finances are an issue to look into the Corgi Aid Cart Loaner Program.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Llyr at Physical Therapy

Llyr never did well at the underwater treadmill. It tired him out to much, but he has always loved swimming and the land exercises he does at therapy. One day a week he just swims and the second day he does land exercises and swimming. He does therapy on Monday and Friday which gives him time to recover between his workouts. The people at West Chester Veterinary Rehabilitation Speciality Center have always advised me on what land exercises are good to do at home with Llyr.  Pictured with Llyr are Michelle, the best Rehab Practitioner and Cheryl the giver of frozen treats and Michelle's assistant. Llyr is no longer able to do this exercise, but his program is constantly adjusted for what he needs and can do.

The beginning

I remember receiving a call from Dr. Cross about Llyr's DNA test and not being surprised, but still very upset. I knew very little about DM. I cried a lot, but then realized that I had to get my act together and do all that I could to help Llyr. I started looking into where I could take him for Physical therapy. The first place I went to I did not like. They had a beautiful new facility and came highly recommended. His first few sessions went well, but then they wanted me to drop Llyr off for the day and told me that it would be impossible for me to be a part of his therapy. I thought this odd, but I did what they asked and after 3 sessions of Llyr coming home tired and out of sorts things did not feel right. I tried to get them to let me participate, but they told me that they could not say exactly what time during the day they would be working with Llyr. So, I set out to find a better facility for Llyr.

After a recommendation from a Vet who specialized in Geriactics I made an appointment with West Chester Veterinary Speciality Center in West Chester, Pa. Llyr had an evaluation with Dr. Stephanie Finely. She was wonderful, knowledgeable and had a calming presence. She told me a beginning plan for Llyr's therapy and that "of course I could be a part of his therapy" Those were golden words to my ears and the start of a wonderful relationship!

What I want everyone to know is do not be afraid to ask questions of Vets and Rehab Practitioners or anyone involved with your dogs care. We all have a sixth sense and don't hesitate to follow it.

Llyr in his K9 Cart Company East Cart

This one is of his first cart. It was a loaner from someone on the Wheel Corgis Yahoo group, but was originally from the Corgi Aid cart loaner program. It enabled Llyr to walk, run and play! It gave him a wonderful quality of life!

My best friend

Llyr is truly my beat friend. His full name is Honeyfox Lord Llyr. I sometimes think I should have named him Prince Charming. He charms everyone with his incredible spirit, character and his lovable nature. Llyr has been in my life since he was 9 weeks old and he will turn 14 on Feb. 3, 2011.
His journey with Degenerative Myelopathy started after he was attacked by an off leash dog in June of 2010. He recovered from the attack, but was unable to use his back legs much after. At first it was thought that maybe he had a disc problem. I decided against a MRI due to his age and possible complications from anesthesia. We went to the University of Pennsylvania Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital and met with a wonderful Neurologist Dr. Johnny Cross. A DNA test for Degenerative Myelopathy was performed and the results came back Affected/At Risk. Although I was devastated it was not a complete surprise because he was showing signs consistent with DM. When I think back he was showing the subtle signs of DM before the attack. He was getting wobbly in his back legs, but he was walking, running and playing.
Llyr had Thyroid Cancer a year previous and had a successful surgery to remove the tumor. He was a survivor. Sadly, Llyr will not survive his diagnosis of DM. There is no cure or treatment.  The only good thing about DM is that Llyr is in no pain.
I am writing Llyr's story to help educate others whose dogs develop DM. I want people to know that your dog can have a good quality of life during the journey. There are many resources to help you and your dog.  There are support groups for Corgis like with many wonderful people going through the same and a lot of knowledge to share. In future posts I will write about the many resources that are available.
This is the beginning of Llyr's story.